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Pocket Door Repair

How to fix sticky, noisy or just plain broken pocket doors

pocket doorFamily Handyman
Do you have a pocket door that sticks or doesn't open or shut all the way? Don't replace it if you don't have to—just install a new track, new rollers or both, and your pocket door will work like it did when it was new.

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Pocket Door Overview

You don’t need to be a coal miner to venture into the deep, dark pocket of a sliding door, but it helps. Once you’re equipped with a new track, rollers and a good flashlight, we’ll show you how to get in, replace the broken hardware, and get out before the weekend’s over and the search party comes looking.

Tips for removing doors

Remove the door stops

Remove painted-over screws. Cut the paint seam between the door stop and the casing, but dont remove the casing. Pry off the door stops with a stiff putty knife. Remove the pocket door.

Sometimes the hardest part is getting the door out of the pocket or off the track. Pull out a door that’s stuck in the pocket by alternately pulling the top and bottom edges. Remove a door from a J-track by following the instructions in Photo 5, but instead of pulling the top toward you, push away to pop the rollers out of the track. Remove a door with roller-skate-type rollers by prying the door up and tapping on the rollers to release them.

New track and pocket door rollers

Cut an access hole

Cut an access hole in the wall with a drywall saw to remove the old track and install a new one. Check for obstructions before pounding the saw through the plaster or drywall to start the cut.

Install the new pocket door track

Install the new pocket door track in the center of the track slot. Position the track at the depth recommended by the manufacturer.

Use a 2×6 to check the new track

Using a 2×6 as a stand-in for your door, check for secure attachment to the track, smooth travel into the pocket, and easy access to adjustment screws. When satisfied with the alignment, transfer the rollers to the door.

Attach the rollers to the door

Use this detail shot as a guide for attaching the rollers to the door.

Rehang the door

Rehang the door by angling the bottom toward you, lifting up with a lever, and pulling back on the top of the door to hook the rollers onto the track.

If you need both a new track and a set of rollers, get them from a builders’ supply store, or order them from your local home center.

Before ordering the hardware, weigh your door on a bath scale, and measure the track slot and track. Our door weighed 30 lbs. and the track slot was 1-1/2 in. wide and 2-1/4 in. deep. The Stanley No. 82 aluminum J-track fit the narrow width of our track slot. To reduce the track slot depth to the recommended 1-1/2 in., we installed plywood spacers. The Stanley No. 85 twin wheel rollers, rated for doors up to 75 lbs., were more than enough for our panel door. If you have a solid-core door that gets a lot of use, the roller-skate-type rollers, rated to 125 lbs., are a better choice.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you startyoull save time and frustration.

  • Circular saw
  • Drill/driver - cordless
  • Drywall saw
  • Flashlight
  • Hammer
  • Hearing protection
  • Level
  • Miter saw
  • Putty knife
  • Safety glasses
  • Speed square
  • Tape measure
  • Utility knife

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • 2x6 scrap
  • Plywood blocks
  • Pocket door rollers
  • Pocket door track